Activities of the Secretary-General in New Zealand, 12-14 May

31 May 2019

Activities of the Secretary-General in New Zealand, 12-14 May

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, arrived in Auckland from Switzerland on Sunday morning, 12 May.  Later that afternoon, he went to the Government House to meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.  He was received with a traditional Maori Welcome Pōwhiri Ceremony.

He later held a joint press encounter with the Prime Minister.  The Secretary-General told the media that his visit was one of solidarity and gratitude — solidarity with the victims of Christchurch, their families and the people of New Zealand, and gratitude for the country’s leadership on climate change.  He praised the Prime Minister’s efforts to curb violent extremism on social media and her visionary leadership on the global climate emergency, which he called a model of urgent climate action for all countries to follow.

That evening he attended a private dinner with Ms. Ardern.

On Monday morning, the Secretary-General attended a breakfast with Māori and Pasifika youth climate activists.  The breakfast was hosted by the New Zealand Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw.

The Secretary-General spoke to the students.  They then posed questions to him.  (See Press Release SG/SM/19577.)

After the breakfast, the Secretary-General and Mr. Shaw briefly addressed the press.  The Secretary-General stressed that, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, more ambitious political will is needed.  He emphasized that countries need to shift taxes from salaries to carbon.  “We must tax pollution, not people,” he said.

The Secretary-General then attended a round table with Pacific community organizations and non-governmental organizations at the Mangere Arts Centre, where he heard their concerns about climate change.  After that he talked to students at the Auckland University of Technology and answered their questions.  The Secretary-General focused his talk on the need to take climate action and to ensure that new technologies are a force for good and not put mankind in danger.  After his talk he gave a brief interview to New Zealand Radio.

In the afternoon the Secretary-General visited the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, where he had the chance to see the renovated facilities and speak to families there coming from all parts of the world including Syria, Colombia, Myanmar and Eritrea.

After that, he gave an interview in his hotel to the TV New Zealand Q+A programme with the journalist Jack Tame, and an interview via Skype with BBC World News TV.

In the evening, he attended a private dinner hosted by Winston Peters, the New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

On 14 May, the Secretary-General flew to Christchurch where he visited the Al-Noor Mosque and met with local Imams.  In the morning, he was given a private visit of the Al-Noor Mosque and he spoke outside to show his solidarity with the Muslim community during Ramadan and to pay his respects to the victims of the 15 March terrorist attacks.  The Secretary-General told the Muslim community:  “I know there are no words to relieve the hurt and sorrow and pain.  But, I wanted to come here personally to transmit love, support and total and complete admiration.”  He said that hate speech is spreading like wildfire in social media and is being exploited as a platform for bigotry.  “There is no room for hate speech, online or offline,” he said, adding that we must all show solidarity in response to this dangerous upsurge in hatred.

He then went to the Linwood Islamic Centre where he met some of the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings — two consecutive terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer on 15 March.  He laid a wreath at the Christchurch Remembrance Wall, and also met with local Imams and Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel.

At noon, the Secretary-General visited the Te Whare o Te Waipounamu centre where a Māori tribe presented a climate-focused project done in conjunction with the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.  (See Press Release SG/SM/19577.)

In the early afternoon, the Secretary-General went to the Christchurch International Airport where he gave an interview to Newstalk, a New Zealand radio station, which focused on the Christchurch attacks and on hate speech online.

The Secretary-General then departed for Fiji, via Auckland and Nadi.  He arrived in Suva in the early evening.

For information media. Not an official record.